The Red Door

The Red Door by Charles Todd

Book: The Red Door by Charles Todd Read Free Book Online
Authors: Charles Todd
don’t have a regular place to live.”
    “That’s all right. Just so we can find you, if we need to have you identify the man, once we have him in custody,” Rutledge told him.
    Hood bobbed his head in acknowledgment, and turned to follow the constable.
    Someone was calling to them again, and Rutledge went with Walker to see what the constable had found.
    This was more promising—a small scrap of paper that had an address scribbled on it in pencil. It was off the Lambeth Road.
    “We can’t be sure it’s his,” Walker said, examining it. “But it could have fallen from his pocket when he pulled out the knife.”
    “Send someone there at once,” Rutledge advised Walker. “The sooner the better.”
    Walker nodded to the constable who had found the scrap. “Right you are, son, see what you can discover.”
    The constable hurried away toward the bridge.
    Half an hour later, the search by the bridge was called off. Rutledge, his mind on the long drive to Suffolk and back, said, “I’ve got to go. If anything comes of the address, leave word with Sergeant Gibson at the Yard. He’ll see that I get it.”
    Rutledge was halfway to his motorcar when he stopped short and swore.
    Setting out at a dead run, he went back to find Walker, who was just leaving the scene of the crime himself.
    “Where did your constable take Hood? The Yard, or the station?”
    “To the station. Is anything wrong?”
    “I hope to God there isn’t,” Rutledge responded and hurried in the direction of Trafalgar Square.
    With any luck at all, he told himself, he’d reach the station in time.
    But he didn’t. Hood had given his statement and gone. Rutledge asked for the address he’d used, and drove there next.
    It was a stationer’s shop near St. Paul’s. Rutledge left his motorcar in the street and went inside. The woman behind the counter greeted him with a smile that faded quickly as he asked if she knew of anyone by the name of Hood. Charlie Hood.
    But she didn’t. He described Hood, and she told him that such a person was not likely to be among the shop’s clientele.
    Rutledge thanked her and left while the voice of Hamish MacLeod drummed in his head.
    He drove back to the police station and circled the blocks as best he could, on the off chance that he could spot Hood again. But by this time the streets were busy, people hurrying about their business, and one man could be anywhere, coming out of a pub just after he’d passed, walking into a shop just before he arrived. It was a waste of time, but he gave it an hour anyway.
    He couldn’t be sure. But something about the shabby, scruffy-bearded man had struck him, and he wanted to speak to him again. What had Walker said? That the man was coming from the direction of the Abbey, and that a constable had taken him to find something to eat.
    He told himself it couldn’t be Walter Teller.
    But there was a good chance that it might have been.
    R utledge drove on to Suffolk, to a small village not far from the Essex border. The house he was searching for was down a lane beyond the high steepled church, a winding stretch of road bordered by wildflowers that meandered another quarter of a mile before he saw the stone gates. The house itself was not as large as Witch Hazel Farm, but set among trees as it was, he could feel the country quiet and hear birds singing as he came to a halt by the door.
    He was directed to the gardens by a housekeeper, and there he found Leticia Teller entertaining a small boy who was squatting by a pool watching pollywogs swim through the murky water.
    “And there’s another one, Harry.” She pointed one out to him. “Just there, beside the lily pad. Oh—there it goes.”
    Another woman sat in the shade, smiling fondly at the child.
    Miss Teller looked up as Rutledge came through the hedge. She was tall, like her brothers, her face a softer version of Peter’s. Attractive, with hazel eyes and a presence that some might find chilly. He gave his name and

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